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Liberating the potential of Kenyan women in Margaret Ogola's novels.

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The research in this dissertation examines Margaret Ogola’s portrayal of female characters in three of her four novels, namely: The River and the Source, I Swear by Apollo and Place of Destiny. The main argument in this dissertation is that: through liberating the potential of Kenyan women in the texts, the author attempts to empower women. Of primary concern to this study is the way Ogola unleashes the potential of women through her narratives by analysing the impending liberation of Kenyan women in her fiction. I examine how Ogola restructures the image of women using different strategies to influence and boost women’s liberation and independence in their changing society. I further examine the classification of female characters: those who subscribe to traditional and tyrannical female socialisation, and those who go beyond the chains of patriarchy and advocate for emancipated femaleness. I analyse the traditional practices and cultural beliefs that bar women’s liberation and their progress, and also examine how the author privileges and gives voice to her female characters in their bid for liberation and independence. The analysis justifies the author’s aims to unmask the biased image of women in Kenyan society as demonstrated by her texts. Lastly, I analyse the principle of gender equality, and examine how the author gives cultural legitimacy to female power in her works of fiction. In this regard, my research is guided by African feminism theory and post-colonial studies. The analysis also takes a sociological approach as a focal point that informs the study on the plight of women and girls in the Kenyan context. I conduct my analysis in this study in a way that not only seeks to engage with the literariness of each of the primary texts, but also highlights the socio-economic value inherent in the texts, as well as how they function as vital tools for the liberation and independence of Kenyan women in the present time. The fourth novel, Mandate of the People (2012), is intentionally left out of my research because many of the issues tackled in it are similar to those found in the first three novels.


M.A. University of KwaZulu-Natal, Pietermaritzburg 2015.


Ogola, Margaret A., Women authors, Black--Kenya., Women authors--Social conditions., Feminism in literature., Theses--English.